Painting credits: Edvard Munch All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Look closely at this picture. Do you see the swirling red sky? The absolutely petrified expression on the subject’s face? Would you believe me if I told you that this painting somehow manages to capture my life in the past three years?
I first came across this painting several years ago. My good friend Google tells me that Edvard Munch, a Norwegian painter was inspired to paint it when he was walking along a path and looked at the sun setting over the fjord. From what I read, it seems that the painter projected his anxiety onto the reality of what he was seeing. For a person who suffers from a mild case of social anxiety, this painting holds a lot of significance for me. But that significance multiplied after I came to study at the University of Toronto. When I chose to come here, I had no idea that the petrified expression on the subject’s face would become an accurate expression of my mental status.
I am an engineering student at U of T. Do you need a moment to process this statement? I certainly do. And having established that fact, I shall now proceed to whine your ears off. I will feel better, and maybe you will too, knowing that you are not alone. Being engineering students, stress and anxiety about assignments, quizzes, midterms, job prospects and team projects (how I adore them!) are parts of our daily lives. Add small drops of a tendency to overthink, and adorable (NOT) clumsiness to this mixture and you get a truly volatile concoction of a human being who might just explode from all the chaotic thoughts swirling around in her head- just like the swirling red sky in ‘The Scream’.
In any situation where I have to interact with other humans, whether friends, acquaintances or strangers, a hundred different scenarios play around in my head. It’s like I am in an RPG, where you have to choose your response based on four different options. In my brain, four suddenly becomes four hundred. Sometimes I wonder if I should have chosen to pursue a profession that does not rely quite as heavily on words like teamwork, collaboration and connections. Who am I kidding? That’s most professions out there. I would like to believe that I am not an introvert, but what is it about people that flips the panic switch in my brain whenever they’re around me? The thought of networking with people at various Skule events or even interacting with sales associates in shopping malls triggers my social anxiety and inside my head I am that screaming person from the painting. While I have always been socially inept, something about coming to Canada, living here all by myself and studying engineering has managed to drastically increase how panicky I feel at any given moment.
While I have whole-heartedly given up on investigating the cause of my many social failures, I have to admit that they have not made my life that difficult. Most of the time it provides me with funny anecdotes that I later tell my friends and all of us get a few laughs out of it. Which brings me to the question, how can I escape from being haunted by a painting? Friends. Wanting to make friends and staying a good friend, made me strive to overcome the panic and anxiety that seizes my heart. When I feel like there is a lion in the room and fear threatens to cloud my judgment, there is nothing better than my friends smiling at me with encouragement. Not today, but maybe one day ‘The Scream’ will no longer remind me of myself.
This is a prose style poem describing the plight of an average engineering student (though the poem specifies an engsci’s viewpoint) among many ‘smart’ students. All said, there’s always hope and light at the end of the tunnel. I hope the readers enjoy this poem and can relate to it at least at some level.
There lived a boy in Canada, twelve grades of school was taught,
And though his name was Average, average he was not
He was loved because he cared, about science, space and time,
About intelligence and love and the power of the mind.
One sunny day he decided, oh such an important decision it was,
That he would be an EngSci, because, well, just cuz’!
When he got his acceptance letter, he jumped and shook with joy,
And his mother ran to hug him and call him mama’s boy.
He put on his Frosh emblem, a Pixar yellow shirt,
And walked into a shower, where purple dye was squirt.
He wrote a weird exam, he suspected was a joke,
And hoped it wasn’t like the real ones, else he would make his mom broke.
And when he started his first week, with an Epsilon – Delta proof,
He was sad and angry, why was he such a goof?
Later came his labs, to code a game for hours he toiled,
But because of one tiny edge case, he got zero and his blood boiled.
But soon he was happy, for it was the winter break,
But when he thought of school, his heart would start to ache,
He was acting like a stranger under his own roof,
For when friends and family came over he would stay aloof,
His mother was very worried, she didn’t know what to do,
Why was he so sad and his marks so low? She didn’t have a clue.
He stopped lacrosse and soccer, he wouldn’t play any sports
He just sat around and moped all day, didn’t even do his chores,
And when his break was over, he came back with a heavy heart.
He wasn’t at the top anymore, no longer was he smart
He had given up all hopes of ever going through
When he saw his marks on portal, why were his marks so less?
He tried to pick himself up, to get a four point O,
But he just couldn’t do it, his improvement was very slow,
He tried and tried hard, but he was depressed and sad,
And surprise, surprise he had moods and hence his marks were bad,
He is now done his first year, tired and ready to go
For why stay in EngSci, if EngSci was his foe?
He came home in the summer and tried really hard to think
Whether without EngSci, his life would completely stink.
He considered his friend Normal who had left the course before,
But Normal was happy now, more joyful than he could ask for.
Normal wanted to do industrial engineering, you see,
And when he switched out, to satisfaction he had found the key.
But Average checked his thoughts, and found that in fact
He really liked EngSci, he liked his proofs abstract.
The only reason he wanted to switch out was that,
If he stayed in EngSci his GPA might go splat!
“But wait!” he thought. “There is still hope!
If I keep trying what I really, really like, then maybe I can cope,
And who cares if my GPA is maybe a little low?
My passion for engineering is a much bigger show!
I will know how to code, and make a robot too!
And design and justify as every engineer must do
I will have a major in a field of major depth,
And because of my first two years, a knowledge of great breadth,
It will be hard and painful, but that’s okay
For my love in engineering will make my work like play”
So he stayed in EngSci, and what happened to him we shall see
For I don’t know, dear reader, how second year will be
But what I do know now from Average is this,
For every average EngSci, life is hardly ever bliss
But that doesn’t matter because as long as we’re together
We will make it through this place and be happier forever.
Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The opinions are purely the author’s/poet’s and do not intend to hurt anybody in any manner. We apologize for any view you as a reader might not be comfortable with.
In a multitude of social beings, there is no one who can declare himself/herself as the “Jack of all trades”. Skills are acquired in the process of learning. A competition is a quintessential opportunity which enables an individual to test his/her potential at a larger scale and to attain more practical experience that later helps in enhancing those acquired skills. A perfect example could be given by quoting Walt Disney “I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it” .
Every year, various competitions are being held in the engineering faculty of the St. George campus. These Skule competitions not only provide a platform for the students to showcase their talents and skills, but also elevates their thirst to thrive.
The following is a short list of a few popular Skule competitions:
The University of Toronto Engineering Kompetitions (UTEK)
It is an annual event (held in the month of January) that offers undergraduate engineering students to participate in one of six competitions from the following categories namely, Junior and Senior Design, Innovative Design, Consulting, Programming, Communication, Debate.
It provides a platform for the students to develop their communication, design and teamwork skills. Above all it offers students an opportunity to network with professors and alumni.
Other benefits of acing the competition include qualifying for the Ontario Engineering Competitions (OEC) and the Canadian Engineering Competitions (CEC).
Further details could be found in their website: http://utek.skule.ca/competitions
ASME Skule Engineering Competitions
These competitions are held by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME) Chapter at University of Toronto.
In the year 2014, teams from post-secondary education institutions all over Ontario were invited to participate in the following competitions:
1) Design Competition
2) Oral Presentation
3) Technical Poster Design
4) Webpage Design
These competitions required the students to apply their skills and in return gain practical experience in design and communication.
As of 2014, rewards of winning these competitions included cash prizes unto $400, and specially for the top placing U of T student(s) in each category a chance to get sponsored by the ASME U of T section for the consecutive rounds in the competition.
More details about the competition could be found in this link: http://sec.skule.ca
Skule’s Got Talent
Engineers, you got talent? If yes, then this competition is for you. This is an annual talent contest where engineers at Skule get an opportunity to get involved and showcase their talents.
The recent Skule’s Got Talent Final Show was held on April 2, 2015 in the SF Atrium.
The photographs and link to the videos of various shows can be obtained from this website: http://sgt.skule.ca
Competitions play a very important role in a student’s life, helping him/her to learn and evolve constantly. Participating in a competition is more important than winning it, as it shows their interest and desire to try out something innovative. The notion of victory is less important than the desire of being involved. Motivate yourself to compete and remember “Compare yourself only to who you were yesterday. Be your own competition”.